Schizophrenia -- truly the only way to describe it.
It's been this way all season, with two sides to this Rocket coin. But it's never been more in-your-face obvious than a 30-point drumming against a very good team on the road followed by this disgusting clunker.
Without Eddie Jones and Anthony Carter, the lowly Miami Heat, coming in at just 6-18 on the road and 17-33 on the season, entered the Compaq Center and simply schooled the Rockets, never trailing in dropping the hometown squad 94-82.
You just can't believe it. This is a team that is supposed to be a playoff contender, and they're in crunch time, and they drop this one.
The Rockets shot 32% from the floor and a paltry 19% from three-point range. With a minute and a half left in the fourth with the game pretty much in hand, Steve Francis, the Rockets starting point guard, had totalled zero assists.
He finished with just one. Many will point to Francis' 27 points as a sign that he had a good game, but don't be fooled. Unlike the Utah game, a game which may have been one of the best of Stevie's career as a leader of this team, Francis was not in control of this one. 14 of his 27 points came from the free throw line, and he was the beneficiary of some terrible officiating (that hurt both teams). He also shot just 6-18 from the floor.
While Francis wasn't great, give him credit for being aggressive. His teammates were not, and may have been worse.
James Posey was 2-10 from the floor, and his 8 misses were u-g-l-y. Maurice Taylor: the same 8 bricks in 10 attempts. Cuttino Mobley was just 3-10. Mobley, Posey, Francis and Eddie Griffin - 4 of the 5 starters - combined to go 3-19 from long range.
The Heat on the other hand shot just 5 three-pointers... making the same three.
Griffin played decently, especially on the boards where he grabbed 12 to go along with 14 points. Yao Ming has to share some of the blame because he's not demanding the ball and being aggressive enough underneath, but tonight he was the only Rocket to shoot 50% or better -- but he took just 8 shots. He also did not block a single shot (though he still had triple the assists Francis could muster).
The Heat jumped all over the Rockets early and never really let up. The Compaq Center was like a morgue in the first half. In the second quarter it became a lot of free throw shooting, and the Rockets missed 1 of 2 just about every time, with a little frustration showing from the fans on each miss. But with 1:30 left in the half, Juaquin Hawkins was like the 4th Rocket to miss a free throw, and boos started to come down. He followed that up by missing the second freebie.
A third quarter run brought the Rockets to within 7, but they never really could get much closer than that. The Heat shot over 51% for the game.
Just a real disappointment. They had a chance to build on a real character win, and they failed miserably. Now the Rockets go back to Square One - a place they've had to step back to several times this season.